Maybe your first business trip is still ahead of you. Maybe you’ve reached gold status as frequent flyer, and remember your first business trip well. I remember mine – I guess I was about 18 years old. Meanwhile, I’ve made hundreds of flights and have seen most of Europe’s major airports. No matter if you are a travelling abroad for work on a weekly basis, or if your first ever business trip is still ahead of you, a few suggestions to make your business trips more pleasant might be welcome anyway! I learned it the hard way by trial and error, so I’d be happy to share my experiences with you!
Don’t make it a big deal
I travel a lot for my work and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. Sometimes people come to me and say: “You’re travelling so much… You must be exhausted!” In fact, I am not. Ok, a rare delay or a speedy trip to the airport, or a bumpy flight are not the most pleasant experiences that travelling has to offer. But I can’t say I am annoyed by it. Especially things you can’t change, such as flight delay or turbulence, are not worth to get stressed about since they are given facts.
Take advantage from it
If you travel on company expenses, you should deliver accordingly. However, no one will blame you for taking the best out of your business trip! There are several ways you can take more out of it. If your schedule allows, go out and visit town or a landmark. Ideally, you could extend your trip with a day or two at your own expenses to get an impression of your destination. It contributes to a better understanding of the country and its people, and that affects your business there too. Another opportunity lies in the free time you have while on planes and trains. I have a ‘golden rule’ for myself: Whenever I fly, I buy a new book. A 1/2-hour flight is enough to get an impression of a book, and a 3-hour flight is enough to read a 120-pager. If you fly somewhere once a month, you have read 24 books, or at least got an impression of them, by the end of the year. It’s also a great opportunity to answer and organize your emails. Once you’ve arrived, find a wifi-spot and send them out!
Preparing your trip well saves a lot of stress. Know where you’re going, know who you’re meeting, clearly set out your goals and know your schedule. Don’t start your journey with a lack of sleep, and avoid alcohol. Follow these simple rules and you’re already half way of making your business trip more pleasant.
Improve the experience
An experience is worth so much more when you actively register it. I can recommend you to keep a diary, to describe what you have seen, learned and experienced on your business trip. A short business trip with a tight schedule can be very overwhelming, and you might forget your impressions quickly. Take photos, videos, and keep your diary, even if you only have the time to write down a few lines or even keywords.
Other ways to improve the experience are checking in online, travelling with hand luggage only, pick a seat between row 1 and 10 on a plane, use speedy boarding possibilities, collect air miles to receive upgrades and lounge access and use iris scan facitilies when possible.
Avoid classical mistakes
There are a few classical mistakes, often made on business trips. Try to avoid them!
- “Let’s save some money and go for a cheap hotel and flight” - Yes, you have to be cost-efficient. But not as far as compromising on your physical well-being and a good night sleep! Your business trip can be so much more effective if you pick the second cheapest option!
- “We have to be at the airport 2,5 hours in advance” – No way! Airlines would like to make sure all passengers are at the gate in time, to avoid delays. They also want to avoid lines at the check-in counter. In case you go to the airport 2,5 hours in advance, you will find yourself bored out of your mind for at least 1,5 hours in 90 percent of the time. Look at the time it takes to get to the airport, take into consideration lines and make a realistic calculation, including some buffer time. 2,5 hours might sometimes be realistic, but certainly not all the time. In Amsterdam, where I live, I usually make sure to be at the airport about 30 minutes before boarding starts.
- “Let’s hit the bar!” – Socializing, yes. Hanging out in the hotel bar until 2:00 in the morning, no. Doing whatever you have to do the next morning won’t be easy with a headache, and certainly not with a hangover!
My suggestions are the ones that work for me. You might figure out how to do things in a different way that suits you better. Try to figure out what works best for you, and keep refining! Have a good journey!
Photo by tania64